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Canadians stranded in Delhi fear the worst – CTV News



As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered a 21-day complete lockdown for the entire country, Canadians and permanent residents still in India scrambled to find a way out, but with travel heavily restricted, many fear they will not be able to return home any time soon.

“There will be a total ban on venturing outside of your homes. Therefore, I request you to remain wherever you are in this country,” Modi said in a televised address to the nation outlining the government’s latest moves in the fight against COVID-19.

The news came at a stressful time for Cloverdale’s Ravi Gill, whose father Hardin Singh Gill has been trying to get home from a village in India’s Punjab region but recently had his flight cancelled. 

“So they’ve had to travel six hours to go to the airport to find out the flight’s cancelled. And then six hours back home to the village,” said Gill, who estimates that within his circle of family and friends there are 90 people in India right now trying to return to Canada.

“We’re just one story out of thousands all over Canada. It’s very hard,” he said. 

About 17,600 Canadians in India have registered with the voluntary Registration of Canadians Abroad service, but registration is voluntary so there are likely more than that. 

Working hand in hand with airlines, the Canadian government has plans to dispatch planes to various corners of the world on repatriation missions, but given the sheer number of Canadian citizens and permanent residents on the sub-continent right now, Gill knows it will not be an easy task to get them all home.

“We’ve seen other repatriation flights coming from Morocco, from Peru. The number of Canadians that are in those countries is not as great as the number that are in India right now,” he said. “We understand it’s difficult for the government to send over 500 planes to India to bring everybody back but we want to see some action. One, two, three, four or five planes going there, right? And as soon as possible.”

The federal government admits it’s unlikely every Canadian abroad will be able to come home soon. 

“We are doing everything in our power to bring the largest number of Canadians home as quickly as possible,” said Krystyna Dodds, a Global Affairs Canada spokesperson. “Unfortunately, it will not be possible to ensure the return of all Canadians who wish to come home.”

Edmonton’s Jas Kiran Mehta, a friend of Gill’s, is in New Delhi trying to find a way for her and several relatives travelling with her to get home.

“It’s panic mode,” said Mehta. “New Delhi is a very populated city so people are worried that they’re going to run out…of drinking water even. They’re scared. Financially, they’re strained.”

Mehta and eight of her relatives, including both her and her husband’s elderly parents, travelled to India to celebrate the first birthday of their son with family.

“It’s really hard when you have a baby that’s trying to run around everywhere and explore the world,” she said about the worry that her son will get sick with the virus.

“We just want to be home safely at this point.”

For Gill and his mother, being thousands of kilometres away from his father as the global pandemic unfolds leaves them with a helpless feeling.

“It’s very difficult for us being so far away and just trying to do what we can to help them,” he said. 

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world March 30 –



The latest:

Canadian businesses and non-profit organizations that see a drop of at least 30 per cent in revenue due to COVID-19 will qualify for the government’s 75 per cent wage subsidy program, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday.

The number of employees will not be a factor in eligibility for the subsidy, Trudeau said at his daily media briefing outside his Rideau Cottage residence. 

That reassurance came after Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, urged Canadians over the weekend to “stay strong” and not let up on measures like physical distancing and proper hand hygiene, saying it will be a critical week in the fight against COVID-19’s spread.

In eastern Ontario, meanwhile, nine residents of a long-term care facility have died of COVID-19 complications since early last week, and the facility’s medical director said Monday they are all believed to be linked to the virus.

CBC Toronto previously reported that nearly three dozen staff members at Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, Ont., have experienced COVID-19 symptoms.

The Pinecrest nursing home is seen in Bobcaygeon, Ont., on Monday. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Across Canada, a domestic travel ban for those showing symptoms went into effect at noon ET Monday.

Abroad, the federal government says it has arranged for Canadians to fly home from several countries, including Honduras, El Salvador and Haiti. It has also arranged flights for Canadians in Sudan, Ghana and Cameroon, who will travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Monday to catch an overnight flight to Toronto.

Global Affairs Canada says more Canadians will come home from Spain, Ecuador, Algeria, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Hungary and Senegal in the coming days.

On Monday evening, Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal tweeted that Canada has also arranged flights for Canadians in India and Pakistan.

At sea, a cruise ship carrying nearly 250 Canadians is on the move after being stranded off the coast of Panama.

The MS Zaandam has passed through the Panama Canal after being anchored on its west side with four dead and nearly 200 passengers and crew showing flu-like symptoms. Holland America says several people onboard have tested positive for the coronavirus. It has been joined, and is being assisted, by its sister ship the Rotterdam.

Meanwhile, Air Canada will temporarily lay off more than 15,000 unionized workers beginning this week. The company says the two-month furloughs will affect about one-third of management and administrative and support staff, including head office employees, in addition to the front-line workers.

‘In the eye of a storm’

COVID-19 is the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, which first emerged in China in late 2019. For most people, it causes mild or moderate symptoms. Health officials have said older people and those with underlying health issues are most at risk of severe disease and death, but they caution that younger people can also develop serious illness.

The pandemic has countries scrambling to contain the spread of the virus and quickly scale up health systems struggling with a shortage of protective gear. Governments are also trying to tackle the economic fallout that has accompanied the pandemic as many businesses cut jobs, scale back operations or close.

As countries adopt measures such as physical distancing, the World Health Organization (WHO) urged governments to ensure that the needs of vulnerable people were met — including food, sanitation and other essential services.  

“In implementing these measures, it’s vital to respect the dignity and welfare of all people,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director general, during Monday’s daily coronavirus news briefing. 

WATCH l WHO chief says ‘humility and kindness’ vital in fight against COVID-19:

While stressing the importance of scientific and public health tools, WHO also called for humility and kindness in the fight against the coronavirus. 2:00

Tedros said he was encouraged by the efforts of G20 countries to work together “to improve the production and equitable supply of essential products.” 

“In the eye of a storm like COVID, scientific and public health tools are essential, but so are humility and kindness.

“With solidarity, humility and assuming the best of each other, we can — and we will — overcome this together,” Tedros said. 

Read on for a look at what’s happening in Canada, the U.S. and some other hard-hit areas.

Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories

Canada’s provinces and territories reported more than 7,400 confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases — of which more than 1,100 cases have been listed as recovered or resolved — though public health officials have cautioned that those numbers don’t capture the full picture. That’s because there are people who haven’t been tested, people who are still being investigated as possible cases, and people who are awaiting test results.  

There have been 92 COVID-19 deaths reported in Canada, plus another two COVID-19-related deaths of Canadians abroad — one in Japan and one in Brazil.

WATCH l Numbers will rise, but extent of increase unclear:

Officials are watching to see if physical distancing has had any effect on the pace of infections, says Dr. Michael Gardam, chief of staff at Humber River Hospital in Toronto. 5:55

For a more detailed look at what’s happening in Canada, including detail on the limitations of relying on recorded cases, visit CBC’s interactive case tracker.

In Ontario, the government on Monday evening extended the state of emergency by two weeks, maintaining the closure of non-essential workplaces and restrictions on social gatherings. It also added an order to close all outdoor recreational amenities, such as sports fields and playgrounds, effective immediately.  

CBC Toronto obtained copies of COVID-19 reports issued daily by Critical Care Services Ontario, a branch of the province’s Ministry of Health. The latest report, from Saturday, shows 92 patients in critical-care wards have tested positive for COVID-19, while another 342 ICU patients are considered “suspected” cases.  This means confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases now account for roughly one out of every four patients currently in Ontario’s intensive care units — the first crucial medical resource to be overwhelmed by the spread of the virus in Italy, Spain and New York City. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.

Health-care workers see a patient in their vehicle at a COVID-19 drive-thru assessment centre at a hospital in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Quebec is reporting another spike in cases — there were 590 new positive cases announced on Monday, bringing the provincial total to 3,430. The province said Monday three more people have died from the virus, bringing that total to 25.

Premier François Legault says the brightest stat of the day was that 78 people were in intensive care, an increase of just six cases. Legault says that, to give retail employees a break, stores will be closing on Sundays in April, with only pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores and takeout restaurants remaining open. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec, including stepped-up enforcement of public health orders in Montreal.

People practise physical distancing while waiting in line outside a store in Montreal on Monday. (Charles Contant/Radio-Canada)

Newfoundland and Labrador recorded its first death due to the novel coronavirus. The patient — a retired man in the Eastern Health region — died Sunday, about three days after being hospitalized. Read more about what’s happening in the province.

Following two years of catastrophic flooding, COVID-19 border closures and physical distancing rules are the latest threats to New Brunswick farmers. Questions over how foreign workers will enter Canada and how long they will have to self-isolate are especially worrying, while the president of the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick is asking for the entire food-supply chain to be declared an essential service in order to protect the industry. Read more about what’s happening in N.B. 

WATCH | Canadian woman describes what it’s like to have COVID-19:

Montreal’s Melanie Fournier has COVID-19 and says anyone who thinks the virus is overblown should take it very seriously: ‘This is not what you think it is.’ 10:01

Prince Edward Island’s businesses and health resources are being forced to adapt as COVID-19 changes islanders’ needs and buying habits. Internet providers are reporting an uptick in demand, mental health and addictions support have moved online and rural grocery stores are experiencing significantly higher volumes as people attempt to shop local. Read more about what’s happening in P.E.I.

British Columbia’s health officer says the province is at a critical period in the pandemic. “We are not through the storm yet,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said.

Henry says the next two weeks mark a second incubation period for the disease as is urging people to follow public health advice because the number of cases hasn’t peaked yet. She says there are also 13 long-term care homes or assisted-living facilities with outbreaks, all in the Vancouver and Fraser Valley areas. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.

A sign promoting physical distancing is seen outside the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, B.C., on Monday. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

In Alberta, some people applying for a provincial one-time funding program meant to tide them over until federal supports are in place are having problems with the process. “It’s absolutely frustrating and I really do need it,” said one self-employed worker who is trying to access the Emergency Isolation Support program. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta, which recorded its third COVID-19-related death over the weekend.

Saskatchewan has also recorded its first deaths related to COVID-19. The Ministry of Health announced two patients in their 70s died from complications related to the virus. It says they died in hospital in different parts of the province, and one was travel-related. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.

A sign urging people to practise physical distancing is seen at Wascana Park in Regina on Monday. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

Nova Scotia confirmed its first case of community transmission on Monday. The province reported five new cases, bringing its total to 127 infections. It comes after Premier Stephen McNeil said over the weekend that the province will “escalate” their response to people breaking self-isolation rules. McNeil directed law enforcement to shift from education to enforcement, while Halifax Regional Police issued their first ticket under the Nova Scotia Emergency Management Act on the same day. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.

In Canada’s North, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health says there is one new case of COVID-19 connected to a cluster investigation on Saturday; the N.W.T government says it will administer a $2.6-million grant to help families buy the proper gear and supplies needed to head out to fishing and hunting camps as an alternative to physical distancing; and Nunavut announced a $5,000 relief grant for small businesses. Read more about what’s happening in the North.

Manitoba is shutting down all non-critical services as of April 1. The province’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, made the announcement on Monday, closing any place that serves food for dine-in service, as well as bars, hair salons and massage therapy offices. Grocery stores will still remain open. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.

WATCH | Winnipeg ER doctor comes out of retirement to fight COVID-19:

Winnipeg ER doctor comes out of retirement to help in the fight against the coronavirus. 2:52

Here’s what’s happening in the United States

From Reuters and The Associated Press, updated at 3:30 p.m. ET

With more than 140,000 people infected, the United States has the most recorded cases of the coronavirus of any country in the world, followed by Italy and Spain. 

New York state has been especially hard hit and Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an urgent appeal for medical volunteers Monday as the number of deaths in the state climbed past 1,200.

New York City hospitals have been overrun with patients. To ease the pressure, construction of a 68-bed field hospital began on Sunday in the city’s iconic Central Park. The white tents evoked a wartime feel in an island of green typically used by New Yorkers to exercise, picnic and enjoy the first signs of spring.

WATCH | New York’s Central Park becomes COVID-19 field hospital:

Sixty-eight bed tent city built to accommodate hospital ICU overflows. 1:02

The makeshift facility, provided by Mount Sinai Health System and non-profit organization Samaritan’s Purse, is expected to be ready to accept patients on Tuesday but will not take walk-ins, and admissions and transfers will be managed by Mount Sinai, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

The mayor, who is among a growing chorus of officials voicing frustration at U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration’s handling of the crisis, said the death toll in his city would rise soon if Washington did not provide more medical supplies and assistance.

Trump, who just last week said he hoped the country would be “opened up and just raring to go” by Easter, changed course on Sunday and announced that the physical distancing guidelines would be in place until at least April 30.

Beds set up in preparation for a potential COVID-19 surge are seen at Temple University’s Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, Pa., on Monday. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, said the decision to extend the federal guidelines — which advise against social gatherings and urge people at higher risk of developing severe illness to stay home — was a “wise and prudent” move, given the projections for case numbers if mitigation efforts aren’t strong enough. 

Among those dying from coronavirus complications in the U.S. were musicians Joe Diffie, a country star in the 1990s, and Alan Merrill, who co-wrote the smash Joan Jett made famous, I Love Rock ‘N Roll.

Acclaimed singer-songwriter John Prine was said to now be in stable condition on Monday, after his family had previously announced he was critically ill with symptoms.

Here’s what’s happening in Europe

From Reuters and The Associated Press, updated at 5 p.m. ET

Italy reported its total number of coronavirus cases has surpassed 100,000, reaching 101,739 on Monday. The country has also registered more COVID-19-related deaths than anywhere else in the world, with 11,591 people killed, accounting for about one-third of the global death toll.

Spain’s total number of coronavirus cases rose to 85,195 on Monday, as the infections surpassed those reported in China, at 81,470, according to the latest data. Some 12,298 Spanish health workers have tested positive, deputy health emergency chief Maria Jose Sierra said. The death toll from the virus in Spain rose to 7,340 on Monday from 6,528 on Sunday, the health ministry said.

Spain and Italy account for more than half of the known 34,800 deaths worldwide from the disease.

Soldiers mount a tent to be used by hospital patients during the coronavirus outbreak in Madrid on Monday. (Bernat Armangue/The Associated Press)

On Monday, the WHO’s emergencies director expressed “fervent hope” that coronavirus cases in those countries are “potentially stabilizing” due to restrictions and lockdowns over the past two weeks, but emphasized it’s no time to let up on tough measures to limit and track the spread of the virus.

“We have to now push the virus down, and that will not happen by itself,” Dr. Mike Ryan told reporters.

Ryan said case-counting in an epidemic reflects the reality of transmission for at least the previous two weeks.

“The cases you see today are almost like a historical, in the same way when we’re told that we’re looking at galaxies through a telescope, that we’re seeing light from a billion years ago,” he said.

People line outside of a shop in Barcelona on Monday. (Emilio Morenatti/The Associated Press)

Hungary’s parliament on Monday approved a bill giving Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government extraordinary powers during the coronavirus pandemic. The bill was approved by Orban’s Fidesz party and other government supporters, but is being criticized by opposition parties, international institutions and civic groups for failing to include an expiration date for the government’s ability to rule by decree.

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is warning in a letter to 30 million households that things will get worse before they get better, as he self-isolates in Downing Street to recover from the coronavirus. Johnson’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, is the latest senior government figure to show symptoms of the coronavirus, which are described as mild. Britain has reported 17,089 confirmed cases of the disease and 1,019 deaths and the peak of the epidemic in the country is expected to come in a few weeks. 

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Prince Charles, 71, says the Prince of Wales is in good health and out of self-isolation after consulting with his doctor.

Graffiti calling for people to wash their hands to combat the spread of the coronavirus is seen in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Monday. (Peter Morrison/The Associated Press)

In France, army helicopters transported COVID-19 patients fighting for their lives from the eastern part of the country to hospitals in Germany and Switzerland as French authorities battle to free up space in life-support units. The Grand Est region was the first in France to be overwhelmed by a wave of infections that has rapidly moved west to engulf the greater Paris region, where hospitals are desperately adding intensive care beds to cope with the influx.

The number of confirmed cases in Germany has risen to 57,298 and 455 people have died of the disease. Cases rose by 4,751, compared with the previous day, while the death toll climbed by 66.

Here’s what’s happening in the rest of the world

From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 7:45 p.m. ET

China is now easing the last of the controls that confined tens of millions of people to their homes while they sought to contain the spread of the virus. At the peak of China’s restrictions, some 700 million people were in areas covered by orders or official requests to stay home and limit activity.

The focus of China’s prevention measures has shifted to overseas arrivals, with virtually all foreigners barred from entering the country starting Saturday.

Shopkeepers in Wuhan — the city where the outbreak began — were reopening Monday, but customers were scarce.

In order to enter places like malls and subways, people need to show they are healthy by scanning a special health certificate obtained via a QR code.

Workers wearing protective suits check health QR codes at the entrance of a re-opened shopping mall in Wuhan on Monday. (Fei Maohua/Xinhua via The Associated Press)

In Brazil, Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta is urging Brazilians to maintain maximum physical distancing to help ease the strain of COVID-19 on the health system, directly opposing President Jair Bolsonaro’s downplaying of the pandemic. 

Bolsonaro has defied calls from health officials trying to prevent gatherings that might spread the coronavirus, downplayed the risks — calling it a “little flu” that largely threatens the elderly and most vulnerable — and insisted Brazil’s economy must keep running. 

On Monday, he said that no more quarantine measures can be imposed than those already in place because jobs are being destroyed and the poor are suffering. Bolsonaro repeated his view that there is a large degree of “hysteria” around the pandemic, and said Economy Minister Paulo Guedes told him measures taken to combat the crisis could cost 800 billion reais ($218 billion Cdn) and that the economy could recover within a year.

In contrast, Mandetta said that as long as he is in his post, he will take a scientific and technical approach to his work.

WATCH | Brazil NGO delivering food in Rio’s favelas:

Brazilian NGO beseeches the government to increase provisions to the poor during the COVID-19 outbreak. 1:43

In India, a lockdown covering the country’s 1.3 billion people has put untold numbers out of work and left many families struggling to feed themselves. Tens of thousands in New Delhi were forced to flee their homes, with no way to pay the rent, journeying back to their native villages. Women in saris held babies on their hips. Others toted their belongings in bags normally used for cement. Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologized for the hardships but said, “These tough measures were needed to win this battle.”

Iranian state-run media say prisoners in southern Iran broke cameras and caused other damage during a riot. It’s the latest in a series of violent prison disturbances in the country, which is battling the most severe coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East.

Iran had temporarily released around 100,000 prisoners as part of measures taken to contain the pandemic, leaving an estimated 50,000 people behind bars, including violent offenders and so-called “security cases,” often dual nationals and others with Western ties. Iran has reported more than 38,000 infections and 2,640 deaths from COVID-19.

People wearing protective clothing carry the body of a victim who died from COVID-19 at a cemetery just outside Tehran on Monday. (Ebrahim Noroozi/The Associated Press)

Mark Lowcock, the UN’s humanitarian chief, is warning that the 10 cases and one death confirmed in Syria are just “the tip of the iceberg.”

He said “all efforts to prevent, detect and respond to COVID-19 are impeded by Syria’s fragile health system,” noting only around half of the country’s hospitals and primary health-care facilities were fully functional at the end of 2019.

Those efforts are further impeded by high levels of population movement, challenges to obtaining critical supplies including protective equipment and ventilators, and difficulties of isolating in crowded camps for the displaced with “low levels of sanitation services,” he said.

In Israel, the prime minister’s office said Benjamin Netanyahu will go into quarantine after his adviser for parliamentary affairs, Rivka Paluch, tested positive. More than 4,300 Israelis have been infected with the virus and 15 have died.

A worker disinfects the doors of the closed Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday. (Mahmoud Illean/Associated Press)

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on Monday he planned stricter rules on mobility and physical distancing as a study presented to the government warned of a risk of more than 140,000 coronavirus deaths by May without tougher action.

Medical experts have said the world’s fourth-most populous country must impose tighter movement restrictions as known cases of the highly infectious respiratory illness have gone from zero in early March to 1,414, with 122 deaths, nearly half of the 250 deaths reported from across Southeast Asia.

Finally, Olympic organizers wasted no time in announcing a new date for the 2020 Tokyo Games, which were postponed last week after countries like Canada said they would not participate due to the coronavirus risk. The targeted date is now July 23 to Aug. 8, 2021.

WATCH | IOC decides on new Olympic dates for next summer:

The International Olympic Committee announced Tokyo 2020 will be held in the summer of 2021, from July 23 to August 8. 2:48

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Comparing coronavirus responses: What did Canada and the U.S. do differently? – Global News



The United States has quickly become the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 2,500 Americans have lost their lives due to the illness since the pandemic broke out, according to Johns Hopkins University. There are more than 143,000 cases of the novel coronavirus in the U.S. as of Sunday night, more than China or Italy.

Simply by virtue of its size — the U.S. has 8.7 times as many people as Canada — the country was all but destined to have many more cases than Canada.

Coronavirus death toll in New York state surpasses 1,000 just weeks after 1st case

But the outbreak has gone far beyond that.

COVID-19 has brought the hardest-hit state of New York to a standstill. More than 1,000 people have died. Despite having a little over half the Canadian population, New York has more than 59,500 cases.

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That’s more than nine times as many as Canada, which has about 7,405 confirmed cases, including 74 deaths.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said worst-case scenario projections show New York would require 140,000 hospital beds and 30,000 ventilators in order to handle the peak of the outbreak.

Coronavirus outbreak: Cuomo says deaths from COVID-19 in New York could be in the thousands

Coronavirus outbreak: Cuomo says deaths from COVID-19 in New York could be in the thousands

What went wrong in the U.S. — and what was different in Canada?

While there have been widespread concerns about the availability of coronavirus testing in both countries, U.S. officials have faced sharp criticism for not making tests widely available until far too long after the virus arrived from China early this year.

A report in the New York Times concluded the failure was due to several factors, including technical issues, bureaucracy and a “lack of leadership at multiple levels.”

“The result was a lost month, when the world’s richest country — armed with some of the most highly trained scientists and infectious disease specialists — squandered its best chance of containing the virus’s spread. Instead, Americans were left largely blind to the scale of a looming public health catastrophe,” stated the report, which was based on 50 interviews.

Paul Offit, an infectious disease expert at the University of Pennsylvania, said the severity of the novel coronavirus was “largely ignored” by the U.S. government until there was already community spread.

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“We were very slow to to prohibit travel into this country from China or regions in that area where the virus was circulating,” said Offit. “When we finally did that, it was too late.”

The country’s pandemic preparedness plan — put together in response to the 2005 H1N1 virus by Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci — was also scrapped by the Trump administration, which Offit said left the U.S. ill-prepared for the COVID-19 outbreak.

By comparison, Canada’s leaders from multiple levels and political parties have called on Canadians to self-isolate and physically distance themselves to contain the spread of the virus.

Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asks Canadians to be ‘part of the solution’

Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asks Canadians to be ‘part of the solution’

The country’s strategy to deal with this pandemic has been adapted from its influenza preparedness plan, which was updated in 2018.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also consistently deferred to the “advice of health professionals” in his daily press conferences to inform Canada’s approach.

Experts who spoke with Global News said a number of factors are driving the stark differences between how the pandemic is unfolding in Canada and the U.S.

One of the big ones is how Canada’s provinces have been able to work together on a response, said Stephen Hoption Cann, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health.

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“What we’ve seen through this spreading pandemic is that there’s a lot of co-ordination on quarantine measures and closures from one province to the next, whereas you see the U.S., the 50 states — there’s quite large differences in what’s happening from one state to the next.”

The provinces have also been able to quickly ramp up testing, Hoption Cann said. As of Monday, more than 220,000 COVID-19 tests have been carried out in Canada.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have yet to release comprehensive numbers of Americans tested for COVID-19, but the COVID Tracking Project — a system run by data professionals that tallies every coronavirus test conducted in the U.S. — lists the total at around 850,000.

There’s also the differing structures of the health-care systems, he said. Canadians can access care without costs or insurance claims. And while some U.S. insurers have announced they’ll waive copay fees for testing, for example, there remain significant financial barriers in the system.

Coronavirus outbreak: Cuomo pleads for healthcare workers across the U.S. to help New York

Coronavirus outbreak: Cuomo pleads for healthcare workers across the U.S. to help New York

In New York City, high population density and social determinants of health such as income and housing are factors, according to Cynthia Carr, epidemiologist and owner of EPI Research in Winnipeg.

“You have people living in very overcrowded apartments and living situations, and those people will be at even higher risk,” she said.

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The city has nearly 33,500 cases of the novel coronavirus and 776 deaths.

While there has been a large number in cases, Carr said the death rate in the city appears to be on par with other areas.

How many Canadians have the new coronavirus? Total number of confirmed cases by region

“The mortality rate, just like Canada, is still very much on the low side,” she said.

Sarah Albrecht, a social epidemiologist and assistant professor at Columbia University, added to this.

She said the city’s status as a travel hub for international and domestic tourism makes it particularly vulnerable when faced with a pandemic.

“In many ways, it’s what makes NYC a unique and exciting place,” Albrecht said.

“But when it comes to infectious diseases, the population density — having people so close together — is what makes it easy for them to take hold, and to spread so quickly.”

Coronavirus outbreak: New York’s Central Park converted into emergency field hospital for COVID-19 patients

Coronavirus outbreak: New York’s Central Park converted into emergency field hospital for COVID-19 patients

The population density in New York City more than doubles that of major cities like Toronto, with 10,935 people per square kilometre, according to a 2015 report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Comparatively, figures from Statistics Canada in 2016 showed that Toronto had a population density of 4,334 people per square kilometre.

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New York City also has large pockets of marginalized populations, who Albrecht said are at an even higher risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and experiencing more severe disease.

Canada moving at an ‘unprecedented rate’ to make supplies amid coronavirus pandemic: minister

That state’s hospitals are not fully equipped for the pandemic outbreak, which Albrecht said could also be a factor.

Personal protective equipment like surgical masks and gowns that repel fluid are in short supply across the country, she said.

Albrecht added New York’s lack of ventilators has also put doctors in the “awful” position of having to decide which patients will have access to a ventilator and which will be forced to go without life-saving equipment.

In an email to Global News, Charles Branas, chair of the department of epidemiology at Columbia, said “extreme, unprecedented measures are being taken, like building ICU beds in a tented hospital in Central Park.”

Government departments working together to obtain and manufacture PPE supplies: Bains

Government departments working together to obtain and manufacture PPE supplies: Bains

The situation is much less dire in Canada, which has set aside more than $11 billion to combat the virus.

Provinces that were hit hardest during the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak had ventilators stockpiled in case of emergency.

Ontario, which was hit hardest by the SARS pandemic, said Friday it had approximately 3,250 ventilators that were ready to be deployed.

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As previously reported by Global News, the province of British Columbia has 1,272 ventilators, while Nova Scotia, who began tapping the private sector for supplies last week, reportedly has 240 ventilators and another 140 on order.

Coronavirus: Developing a rapid COVID-19 test is in the works in Canada, globally

The Alberta government said it has 477 with another 50 on order while Manitoba health officials told reporters they had 243 ventilators with another 20 on order.

Saskatchewan has 91 adult ventilators for critical care, 80 additional subacute ventilators and 250 additional ventilators ordered.

Newfoundland and Labrador officials said they have 156 ventilators. Prince Edward Island has 19, with 15 on order.

Nunavut has the least amount of ventilators available at seven, but officials said all intensive care patients are transported out of the territory to be treated.

Trudeau promises “millions more items” of protective gear

Trudeau promises “millions more items” of protective gear

Paul-Émile Cloutier, president of HealthCareCAN, said in earlier interview with Global News that as long as the outbreak doesn’t worsen and overwhelm Canada’s health care system, provinces should have enough ventilators to meet their current needs.

If that were to happen, Cloutier, whose group represents health care organizations and hospitals, said Canada may find it difficult to find suppliers able to meet a sudden influx in demand for supplies.

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“If there was a surge of patients coming through to which they would need to be hospitalized, then you may have a shortage of ventilators,” he said.

“Their issue is where would you get them?”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Coronavirus: Trudeau says he’s ‘proud’ of Canada’s COVID-19 response as U.S. cases soar – Global News



As U.S. President Donald Trump slowly comes to grips with his country’s grim prognosis for the novel coronavirus, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau conceded Monday he’s taking a measure of comfort from early signs that the caseload in Canada is on a different trajectory than the United States.

Trudeau said he’s proud that Canadians appear to be taking seriously the importance of staying home and keeping their distance from others — the one measure public health officials say is paramount to slowing the spread of COVID-19.

And while the success or failure of those efforts won’t become clear for at least another week, Trudeau said, there’s little doubt that Canada is doing better than its southern neighbour at limiting the scope of the illness.

This week ‘critical’ for Canada’s fight against coronavirus, officials say. Here’s why

“I think I would say we’re not necessarily on the same trajectory,” Trudeau said in French during the daily fresh-air briefing outside his Rideau Cottage residence. “We were quicker to get the screening done, and I think we have had more success in getting people to self-isolate.”

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The U.S., however, has hardly set a high bar.

There were more than 156,000 cases by midday, nearly 13,000 more than the day before, and the number of deaths was hurtling towards 3,000. A shortage of beds, ventilators and masks had hospitals in hard-hit New York City operating well past the breaking point, using refrigerator trucks as makeshift morgues. The USNS Comfort, a hospital ship, docked at Manhattan’s Pier 90 to help with the overflow.

Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau says business, charities, non-profits eligible for COVID-19 wage subsidy

Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau says business, charities, non-profits eligible for COVID-19 wage subsidy

Alarming spikes in the caseloads in New Jersey, Florida, Pennsylvania and Louisiana had officials in those states bracing for the worst, well aware they might be ill-equipped to handle it. In New Orleans, home to America’s worst per-capita COVID-19 death rate, the mayor said she’d have cancelled Mardi Gras last month if only the federal government had warned her.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the lead voice of medical reason on the White House coronavirus task force, has warned the U.S. death toll could land between 100,000 and 200,000 — and that’s after Trump abandoned his “aspirational” target of April 12 for reopening parts of the country, extending stay-at-home measures until the end of the month instead.

“By very vigorously following these guidelines, we could save one million American lives,” Trump said Monday during a Rose Garden news conference as he spelled out the need to keep the country shuttered for another month.

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“This is our shared patriotic duty; challenging times are ahead for the next 30 days. We’re sort of putting it all on the line, this 30 days.”

Live updates: Coronavirus in Canada

To the horror of public health experts, Trump had been musing about a celebratory Easter long weekend marked by packed churches, open shops and an accelerated return to American normalcy, insisting he didn’t want the “cure” to be worse than the “problem.” But early indications from Washington state, which reported the first known U.S. case, suggest the social-distancing strategy is having an impact.

A joint online survey released Monday by polling firm Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies suggested, among other things, a difference in attitudes between the two countries when it comes to modifying behaviour to curb the spread of the virus.

Only 86 per cent of 1,004 U.S. respondents said they were keeping the requisite two-metre distance between themselves and others, compared with 95 per cent of the 1,590 Canadians surveyed, while 85 per cent of the American survey group said they had stopped going out for necessities — nine percentage points less than their northern neighbours.

Coronavirus outbreak: Canadians’ actions today will determine where we are a month from now

Coronavirus outbreak: Canadians’ actions today will determine where we are a month from now

And while 86 per cent of the Canadians polled said they had asked friends and family to keep their social distance, only 72 per cent of the U.S. respondents could say the same.

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“Everything depends on the choices that people have made and continue to make,” Trudeau said.

“I’m very proud of the way that Canadians have rallied and continue to abide by the guidelines. I think they understand that we all have an opportunity to have a direct impact on Canada’s ability to come out of this.”

When confronted with the failings of the American response, Trump frequently claims that things would have been far worse had the U.S. not slammed the door back in late January on travellers from China, where the outbreak originated. Most major airlines by that point had already suspended flights to China.

Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau tells Canadians ‘it’s raining’ metaphorically-speaking

Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau tells Canadians ‘it’s raining’ metaphorically-speaking

Canada, however, didn’t take significant steps to restrict international travellers until mid-March. On Monday, Trudeau — asked whether that should have happened earlier — seemed to acknowledge that with the benefit of hindsight, more could have been done.

“We’re obviously not, in an unprecedented situation, always going to get things perfectly right,” he said.

“We’re going to continue to be committed to doing the right things as best as we can and figuring out what works, what doesn’t work, and moving forward in a way that is both nimble and focused on helping Canadians, insomuch as a government can be nimble and agile.”

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Canada and the U.S. agreed to close their shared border to non-essential travel two weeks ago while still allowing two-way trade, supply lines and commercial interests to continue, including workers who live in one country but commute to the other. The U.S. has also banned foreign nationals from China, Iran and parts of Europe.

Given U.S. social-distancing restrictions will remain in place through April, those existing travel bans would likely be extended as well, Trump said — “maybe even toughened up a little bit.”

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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